Over the course of the next five years, “mobile context” will play a key role in improving user experiences across various devices. What is mobile context? Simply put, it’s everything you know about your customer and how you use all that information to understand what he/she wants at any given point.
Mobile application development will be more about what the user is currently experiencing and what they expect from a mobile app or website when they launch it. A good example is Delta Airlines which pushes relevant content to a frequent flier, like the real-time status update on his next flight’s upgrade list, depending on how close he is to departure time. Context is one in a line of several other important challenges we foresee in the near future. Here’s our take on the top three issues and how to move forward.
Context: To ensure awesome contextual experiences, a business needs information. It has to be aggregated from different sources, like the devices consumers are carrying, the sensors around them and historical relevance of their preferences. App developers have their task cut out for them as their app will now have to connect to this data stored on multiple devices.
Device displays: A major challenge the recent mobile app development process has to overcome is the device proliferation. Till even last year, the process was simplified: build app, ensure it sits pretty on a 4- or 4.3-inch smartphone and a 9.7-inch tablet and then, submit to app store. Things have changed dramatically now, and it’ll keep getting tougher in the coming years. New display sizes and the nature of your apps demand more flexibility. 5-inch phablets aren’t exclusive any more while tablets have taken different avatars, starting from 7 inches and going up to 20 inches or more with the Windows 8 platform. These devices, collectively, will increase the potential and need for collating contextual data about your users.
Move over touch, it’s voice all the way: After the success of Google Now and Apple Siri, developers are scurrying to incorporate voice input in their apps. Imagine a fitness app without voice capability – in all probability, the phone will be strapped onto the (sweaty) arm, and viewing the screen while exercising or running is a recipe for disaster. This applies to other situations like when one is rushing through the airport with baggage in tow or while driving. Today’s apps are letting people use their smartphones or tablets while staying hands- and eyes-free!
Mobile services = Mobile apps: Finally, an area where mobile application development increasingly finds itself in these days, and also leverages from, is vendor-specific service. The reason why it’s an out-and-out opportunity for developers is because user interfaces are blurring the lines between an OS and the apps that run on it. Over the next few years, it’ll be almost impossible to tell where platform-centric mobile services end and third-party apps begin.
With offerings such as Passbook and Wallet, platform vendors like Apple and Google are relentlessly forcing developers to customize apps which appeal to their APIs and unique operating systems. Other platforms like Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10 aren’t far behind either. Mobile technology providers are transitioning from standalone apps to client-centric, device-integrated mobile apps, and that’s good news!